Cousins share Missionary Training Centre experience, at home

by Greg Nettleship

Elder Dyson and Newell shake hands.

Two cousins, called to missions on different continents, embraced their Missionary Training Centre (MTC) experience, while still in their own homes – which happened to be separated only by a garden fence! 

Despite the temporary closures of MTCs around the world, the work of moulding thousands of volunteer missionaries into effective gospel teachers continues with the use of modern technology, while missionaries are still in their homes. 

Being physically close to other missionaries at the MTC is not currently possible, but for two missionaries from Sheffield First Ward, they at least have each other close by. 

Elder Pierre Sewell and Elder Keown Dyson, whose mothers are sisters, received their calls in March 2020, just as the country was going into lock-down. Elder Dyson was excited to receive his call to serve in the Jamaica Kingston Mission, which is where he had always wanted to go. Elder Sewell had also wanted to serve somewhere far away but thought there was little chance of that, now that his cousin was going to Jamaica! However, just a few days later, he was thrilled to see he would serve in the Philippines Legazpi Mission (Tagalog speaking). 

Having started his mission on the 21st July 2020, Elder Sewell’s day now consists of getting up early, personal and language study, and then a long wait before companion study because his companion is in Wyoming! Two three-hour ‘Zoom’ lessons follow finishing at 10.00 pm. Elder Dyson’s day also starts early but with teachers based in their homes near Preston MTC, the lessons do not finish so late. His companion is from Poole, UK and the other members of the district are in seven other European countries. Elder Dyson has already had the opportunity to teach remotely. 

Many mission experiences now are based on using technology to teach, and the physical distance does not seem to matter. 

Elder Sewell says this is the generation of technology and the Church has been prepared for this time. Due to current restrictions and visa hold-ups, the two cousins are temporarily assigned to missions in the UK, Elder Dyson to London and Elder Sewell to Manchester. Both are happy to serve and work to the Lord’s timetable. 


Elder Dyson and Elder Newell at the London Temple
Elder Dyson (left) and Elder Sewell (right) stand at the doors of the London Temple.

Both elders received their temple endowments on the 25th of August 2020, saying it was a very special experience during which they felt the Spirit. They felt blessed to attend the London Temple, which had just re-opened for live endowments. The only patrons in attendance were the two of them and their respective parents.

Despite the pandemic, missionary work is progressing. We can see the Lord’s hand not only in providing well-prepared missionaries but also in providing the tools to reach more of Heavenly Father’s children than ever before.